by Alex Morrison
We had a great weekend with a little bit of everything here in Georgia. From humid heat to torrential rain to a blackout in the building on Championship Sunday, we saw it all! There was also a lot of competitive hockey played on the rinks in Snellville. Here’s how everything ended up:
This group of three 8 and under teams started the event off for us on Saturday, and brought lots of excitement into the building. Crowd wise, this was by far the most boisterous of them all, as parents and grandparents cheered on their little hockey players.
On the rink, it appeared that there were 3 levels of experience playing. The team just getting started was the SGAA Sting from Savannah. They were an awesome group of kids that were so excited just to be here. I think they spent more time hanging around the rink than any other players this weekend. As they gain experience, they will see their share of wins.
The Cooler Selects came out as kids with mostly ice hockey experience, trying to learn the differences in the roller game. While some of them had some great individual skills, they started Saturday struggling against the team that had more roller hockey experience. As each game went by, they learned more and more, making for one heck of a championship game.
The Jr Gladiators were that team with experience, and it showed in every game they played this weekend. In the final, they started things off playing aggressively, scoring the first 3 goals of the game. The last few minutes of the 1st half saw a little bit of push back from the Selects though, gaining momentum with a few shots on goal. A new team seemed to appear on the floor in the 2nd half, skating the puck up and down the court, and scoring at will, lighting the lamp 5 times in a row! The Gladiators were stunned, and needed a miracle to come back from this. An amazing comeback by the Selects was what I was going to write about here, until the Gladiators showed that while they were down, they certainly were not out. In the last 3 minutes of the game, Brady Brogdon and Anthony O’Neal put their team on their backs and dominated the play. They scored 3 goals in less than 1 ½ minutes, leaving a stunned Selects team hoping for a last minute goal. They weren’t able to muster up one last one, and the Gladiators were champions. This was definitely the most entertaining game of the weekend!
This was a division that had a little bit of everything. Just a few games into the event, the Tour Lizard Kings looked like the team to beat, with 17 goals for and 4 against after just 2 games. They matched up well against another undefeated team, the SGAA Sting in a game that was played just for seeding in the gold final. Once we got to the final, the #1 seeded Lizard Kings played an all around hockey game. Miles Harrington scored a hat trick in the 3-0 win, and was the division’s high scorer. As well as the Sting’s defense held the kings down in scoring, the Kings’ defense did an even better job getting the shutout.
In the Silver Final, the Jr Gladiators and Cooler Selects faced off in a final once again, just like they did the game before in the Atom final. This game was dominated by the Gladiators, as Case Santa Maria skated up and down the rink, scoring 4 goals, and backchecking well for the team. The Selects had 3 different goal scorers in the 8-3 loss.
We had a team come down from North Carolina, the Dragons Black to round out this 4 team grouping. I saw them play at the North Carolina Regional, where they lost a nailbiter to the Richmond Rattlers. They came into this event looking strong and hungry to take home a gold medal. Of the 3 teams that stood in their way, the Tour Lizard Kings were the most formidable opponent, beating both the Sting Black and the Sting Yellow to advance to the Gold final. The Dragons were a balanced team, with 4 different players scoring in the game. Duncan Rex had a hat trick, and Adam Kannihy backstopped the Dragons to a win.
In the Silver Final, the Sting Black and Sting Yellow faced each other. The Black team was put together last minute, as most of the usual players on the team were away at ice hockey tryouts. The Yellow team took it easy on them, playing a puck possession game without much shooting once they established a 4 goal lead. Yellow won it by the score of 5-1. Summer Ross had a hat trick in the winning effort.
Pee Wee Division
This was the largest division of the weekend, as 6 teams battled for placement on Saturday. 2 teams went undefeated, and advanced to the Gold Final. They were the SGAA Sting Black, and the Raleigh Speed. The Sting were a bit more dominant in the prelims, winning 2 of their games 8-0, while the Speed’s games were a bit tighter. In the final, the Sting scored just a few minutes in, but the next 10 minutes were all about defense. Blocked shots, great saves, and very few scoring chances were had in that time. At halftime, the Sting led 2-1. The second half opened up a bit, and the Speed had a couple breakdowns, allowing odd man rushes, and eventually, goals. This one ended 5-1.
The Silver Final was an amazing game, as the Jr Checkers and Jr Gladiators played a nailbiter. This game was 1-0, then 1-1, then 2-1, then 2-2 on a nice goal by Ben Sanders. It went to overtime, which was scoreless, then a shootout, which ended after the first 3 Checkers players scored. While they ended up with the gold medal, both teams should be recognized for their efforts in this game.
The 4 teams playing in this division were about as evenly matched as it gets. All of the games here were decided by 3 goals or less, and both finals were 1 goal games.
The Silver Final saw the SGAA Sting Black face the Bruise Brothers. When these two teams met on Saturday, only one goal was scored, as Bruise Brothers goalie Erin Cross made 21 saves in a 1-0 win. She was at it again in the final, only giving up one goal in the first half. She needed the boys in front of her to light the lamp in the 2nd half. John Testino did just that, scoring just a few minutes into the half. Then, with just under 2 minutes left in the game, Brendan Buckley floated a puck at the goalie that somehow found its way to the back of the net. The Bruise Brothers ended their weekend with a victory and a gold medal.
In the Gold Final, the Alkali Arsenal from North Carolina was matched up against the SGAA Sting Yellow. The Yellow team is made up of mostly Pee Wee aged players that certainly held their own with the older players on the floor. The Sting began the game with a couple of goals in the first half, looking pretty confident. Arsenal goalie RJ Lewis didn’t let that get the best of him, as he made a big save that some saw as controversial. With most of his body back in the net, he stuck his glove in the air, robbing the Sting player of a goal. Since the entire puck had to cross the line, the referee ruled that it was not a goal, and play resumed. The momentum from that save carried into the 2nd half, as Jackson Carter led his team to a great comeback, tying the game halfway through the 2nd half. They took the lead a few minutes later, only to see the Sting muster up enough offense for another goal with 4 minutes to go. This game was destined for overtime. In the OT period, an odd man rush led to a great scoring opportunity, which Danny Brescia took full advantage of, stuffing home the game winner.
This exciting division gained the most attendance at the weekend event. A lot of attention was paid to the games involving Mijo (Itan Chavira) and Friends, as Itan has a large fan club around Georgia. It was neat to see all the kids coming up to him asking for autographs. He was gracious with all of them. On the floor however, he wasn’t able to carry the load, as his 4 teammates tried, but were out manned by deeper benches that played a strong 2nd half. One of the most exciting games took place in this group, as the Purple Cobras and KSU played in a semifinal that went all the way down to a shootout. The Cobras won it, however it is worth mentioning that KSU’s Patrick MacDonald was an impressive force, earning high scorer for the division.
The final showcased the very solid and young PTC Jets, showing why they were the #1 seed in the division. They spread the puck all over the floor, and did not allow many scoring chances on defense. 5 different goal scorers helped in their 5-1 victory. Sean Kearney really stood out, controlling play, and having an assist in addition to his goal.
That’s it for another NARCh weekend! Next weekend is Memorial Day, where we have our traditional event run by the guys at Dumars’ Fieldhouse in Michigan, and an event in Alberta, in Sherwood Park, run by Hockey Alberta.